SBJ/November 21-27, 2011/Idea Innovators

Nan Zi Wang, Comcast Sports Group

Photo by: COURTESY OF COMCAST SPORTS GROUP

Define innovation: Identifying uniqueness in everyday objects and transforming them into an idea that gives a fresh perspective.

What’s the innovation you’re most proud of? Comcast Sports Group requires designs for multiple networks and sports, so I designed our new live events animations around the theme of “City of Sports” and used a skyline theme that is stylistic but modular enough to customize for different pro, college and amateur events.

What’s the future of your industry? The sports viewing experience will be more interactive — imagine an experience where the viewer can drag a graphic or camera angle from live TV to a mobile device, control the speed or perspective of a replay, or tailor stats to the viewer’s own interest. Our challenge will be creating a user-friendly interface to make everything seamless but also highly customizable.

What inspires you? I look for things in my surroundings that form a connection between my world and my work. Inspiration can be found in everyday things that we take for granted.


Nan Zi Wang

Art Director
Comcast Sports Group

The on-screen look and feel of Comcast’s sports networks come from Nan Zi Wang, art director for Comcast Sports Group. Having worked at NFL Films before joining Comcast in 2010, Zi immediately was assigned with updating the on-screen graphics for the group’s 11 sports networks and three non-sports networks.

“It doesn’t have to be better,” Zi said. “It has to be different. It has to feel fresh. Different and fresh is a better look.”

Typically, networks look to change their graphics every two years, Zi said. The biggest challenge is to create a graphics package that is unique to every network while making them all carry a similar feel.

“They have to share the same ID,” he said. “But at the same time we want to make them different.”

Zi said his group started the process by studying how every other channel lays out its graphics on-screen.

“You have to look at everyone else, like ESPN and TNT,” he said. “Then you have to come up with something totally different.”

Zi’s group started the process of changing graphics by drawing a storyboard. Once that step was complete, he turned those images into rough animation before finalizing the graphics. It’s about a six-month process, he said.

The results have won Zi plaudits in markets where Comcast operates channels.
“Zi and his team have been instrumental in creating a high-quality look and feel for our games, which has enhanced the experience for fans,” said Kurt Kehl, Monumental Sports senior vice president of corporate communications and chief communications officer. “We are continually impressed with the visual presentation of Comcast SportsNet’s coverage of the Caps and Wizards.”

— John Ourand

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